After a few months of operations, a PC gets tangled up in its own inner registry workings, which can gum up the works. After a year or so, it can really slow things down. Here’s one way to clean up your computer.
One of the least understood parts of the Windows system is the registry, and it is one which effects the operation of your computer in a major way. There is a gotcha in all of this, because tinkering with your registry can be very dangerous. This is, after all, where your PC stores most of its settings and application details. If it gets some of that wrong, your system will never be the same again. Almost everything a Windows PC does is informed and guided by entries in the registry file.
One problem is the sheer bulk of the file itself. Every time you install a new application or even just visit the Web, new entries are written into the registry file. Sometimes a program will write hundreds of entries into the registry when it is installed, will continue to make regular entries while you run it, and then will not remove any of those entries even of you uninstall the program. It is no wonder why a PC with a lot of time on the clock can be slowed down by all of these entries.
It is possible that if you have not installed many programs beyond what was there when you got your computer, and if you do not really use it for much, or for very long each day, your registry file may not be in bad shape. The registry is not the only thing that can slow down your system, and if your performance is waning, it may be something else entirely. But if you have installed a lot of new programs and your system gets a lot of hard use, a clogged registry is a good bet.
The only real ways to clean up registry problems is to be a Windows uber-guru or to use a registry cleaner utility. That leaves most of us with just the utility. One hears varying things about these programs, some good and some bad. In something this complex, no matter what you read or who you talk to, your mileage may vary. Registry cleaning is a crapshoot.
The most important thing that you can do is back up your registry before you do anything to it. That way, you can at least go back to a usable state. In truth, a complete backup of your system is always a good idea to prevent disasters. With the cost of external drives as low as it is, there is no excuse not to have a backup of your system. Yet, very few PC owners ever bother. For just backing up the registry, use ERUNT, a free utility you can find just by Googling. Full system backups are beyond the scope of this article, but it’s probably time for you to start boning up on how to do it.
If your performance problems are so bad that you have attempted all the other options and are ready to try a registry cleaner, don’t forget to run ERUNT before you start. Choose a well-know and popular registry cleaning utility, like Registry First Aid, or Advanced WindowsCare personal, or perhaps a cleaner that a friend uses and can recommend.
You should probably take it slow and easy. All registry cleaners offer a variety of settings. Read the documentation so you can decide which options are the least dangerous. Start with those and run the cleaner, being as careful as you can. Then run the system for a week or so to make sure that you have not caused any major problems. If performance is still not back to normal, do it all over again with slightly more aggressive cleaning settings. Keep on with this method of slightly more aggressive settings and a week of testing until your performance improves or you are out of options. If things break along the way, restore you last registry backup.
But remember, you have to keep that registry file backed up!